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Barbara Barrett

Barbara has broken the glass ceiling for women in so many fields, and she has ensured long term impact by changing policies so more women could succeed following in her path.


Coming from a modest family in Pennsylvania, Barbara attended Arizona State University,  earning BS, Masters, and Juris Doctor degrees. She has since worked as an attorney, corporate director, and diplomat, and she is also an instrument-rated pilot and cattle and bison rancher.


In the 80s Barbara began a career in politics. President Regan recruited her to serve as vice president of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Her negotiations with China and Poland resulted in aviation treaties. She became the highest ranking women at the FAA. At a time when women were excluded from flying fighter planes and bombers.  Barbara urged that women be allowed to fly all aircraft types. The law was changed, and Barbara became the first civilian woman to land an FIA-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier.


In 2008 and 2009, Barrett served as U.S. ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush and as senior advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She was later appointed the 25th Secretary of the Air Force  by President Trump and helped stand up the US Space Force.


Among her many honors and distinctions, she was appointed to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution by a joint resolution of Congress to a term ending on September 17, 2026. She continues to participate in national and State academic and civic affairs.

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